3438 PTE. W. KELLETT. L.N.LAN.R.
William Kellett was born in Farington on 9 June 1895 and baptised at St. Paul’s on 7 July. His parents were Thomas Kellett (b. 1864 in Leyland), a railway platelayer by trade, and Martha Elizabeth Sturzaker (b. 1859 in Preston). Thomas and Martha were married at St. Paul’s in 1888 and had 5 children: Mary (b. 1888), Alice (b. 1890), Maud Alice (b. 1891), Henry (b. 1892), and finally William. In 1891, they were living on Tardy Gate Lane and with them was Martha’s illegitimate son, Ernest Sturzaker. In 1901 the family was living at Charnock Moss but by 1911 they had moved back to Lostock Hall, living this time at 64 Ward Street. By 1911, daughter Mary had died (1903) but they had adopted a 5-year-old Arthur Rawcliffe. Thomas was now a gardening labourer and all the children bar Arthur were working as weavers in the mill.
Thomas Kellett enlisted with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on 14 December 1914 and was given service number 3438 and posted to 4 Battalion (which would later become 1/4Bn), A Company. He was 19yrs 6mths old when he enlisted, 5’ 8½” tall with a 35” chest. He remained at home in training until 3 May 1915 when he left for France with his Battalion.
The Battalion was in reserve during the opening period of the Battle of Festubert but it moved into the line on 25 May. Conditions were appalling. From the Divisional History: “in the case of the front taken over by the Division, the normal difficulties were accentuated by the fact that digging in was possible to a depth of from two to three feet. Everywhere in the Flanders mud, below that level, water was encountered… The difficulty of consolidation in this mud country requires to have been experienced to be fully appreciated.”
The Battalion moved to the front again on 13 June in order to prepare for the attack on 15th. The attack commenced at 6pm and was initially successful, the Brigade initially occupying and holding the German third trench. However, as they progressed their flanks had become exposed and overnight the Germans counter-attacked and forced a withdrawal. Total casualties were initially estimated at 431 killed, wounded or missing. At the subsequent roll-call at Le Touret only 243 men answered their names. The total strength of the Battalion at the beginning of May 1915 was 31 officers and 1003 other ranks.
During the failed attack on 15 June, William Kellett received shrapnel wounds to his head, shoulder and left knee from which he died a week later on 23 June. He was 20 years old.
William’s half-brother Ernest Sturzaker was killed at Festubert on 16 June, fighting with the Royal Scots Fusiliers.
Service No: 3438
Date of Death: 23/06/1915
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.
Cemetery: ÉTRETAT CHURCHYARD